Photo by Susan Black Steen
Last month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order permanently barring Syrian refugees from entry to the United States and a temporary 12o-day ban on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, seven predominantly Muslim countries, garnering the nickname of a “Muslim ban.”
The travel ban is the product of “extreme vetting” to combat terrorism that Trump promised during his campaign, but it has impacted the lives of travelers, dual citizens and refugees around the world, including on campus. The ban took effect immediately causing extreme confusion and chaos among travelers seeking entry into the country once they reached the airport. This is in part due to Trump not discussing the order with his officials in Border Patrol and Homeland Security.
Judge James Robart of the federal district in Washington State blocked Trump’s order. As a result, the State Department has restored the validity of visas from the seven affected countries. However, the battle is long from over with some speculating that this legal battle will reach the Supreme Court.
Last week MTSU President Sidney McPhee issued a statement following the enforcement of the ban:
“To the University community,
As you likely know, President Trump issued an executive order Friday that suspended the entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days; barred Syrian refugees indefinitely; and blocked entry into the U.S. for 90 days for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The impact of this order upon MTSU’s international student and scholar population is minimal. With the Spring semester two weeks underway, we have no students in transit who would be impacted at a port of entry. We are unaware of issues facing any faculty members as a result of this order, but we will continue to reach out on this Monday.
I also asked Dr. David Schmidt, our vice provost for international affairs, to reach out to the three students with asylum status and the two visiting scholars/researchers now at MTSU from these countries and apprise them of their options.
This is a developing situation that we will continue to monitor closely.”
Sophomore Mechatronics Major Salim Sbenaty, son of MTSU Engineering Professor Saleh Sbenaty, shared his thoughts about the ban with Sidelines. Although all the immediate Sbenaty family members live in the United States, much of the extended family still resides in Syria.
“We aren’t stupid. We know that it’s specifically targeted at Muslims,” Salim says. “And Trump saying that he’ll allow some exceptions for families in Syria that are Christian and that they’ll be able to come over. That is blatantly saying that he is putting the block specifically on Muslims. No matter what your religious background is, that should be ridiculous to you, because who is next?”
MTSU students have rallied together since the ban was implanted in late January, showing support to Muslim students and even taking to the Murfreesboro square to rally against the ban.
“I think it’s hurtful for everybody, whether it effects you now or not,” Salim says. “The damage has been done. All we can do now is scream and shout and make as much noise as possible… F–k Trump.”
To contact News Editor Brinley Hineman, email firstname.lastname@example.org.